The Falcons completed the third NFL coaching change of the 2021 offseason on Friday, hires Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith.
Atlanta turns to Smith, 38, after a 4-12 season that included the firing of Dan Quinn after a 0-5 start. The Falcons were 4-7 under interim coach Raheem Morris, but have lost their last five games.
Morris was one of the candidates the Falcons interviewed for the full-time job. Black-smith was the last person interviewed while Atlanta and other interested teams had to wait for the Titans to finish their playoff game against the Ravens on January 10.
Smith joins Robert Saleh (Jets) and Urban Meyer (Jaguars) as new NFL head coaches in the days following the end of the 2020 regular season.
So who are the Falcons as the field boss, and what is Smith getting into?
Smith rose through the ranks in Tennessee
Smith has been a coach since 2006, making stops in North Carolina, Washington football and Ole Miss before joining the Titans in 2011. He mainly worked with tight ends in Tennessee until he took over. as offensive coordinator in 2019. As an OC, he leaned on running back Derrick Henry in a heavy ball control attack. Tennessee has finished second in the league in rushing attempts and yards this season. But Smith also made the most of quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who posted a 106.5 assist rating in 2020. The Falcons’ offensive staff are a little different.
Smith inherits powerful Atlanta passing game
Atlanta must have pitched him a lot in 2020, for several reasons: the running game wasn’t strong, the team had big receiving threats around Matt Ryan, and they needed to keep up with their opponents in high-scoring matches. . The Falcons finished fourth in the NFL in passing attempts and fifth in passing yards in 2020. From now on, Matt Ryan will be launching against Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Russell Gage and Hayden Hurst next season. Running back is a need as Todd Gurley and Brian Hill become unrestricted free agents in March. The offensive line will also need attention, with center Alex Mack entering free agency.
Smith will need someone to straighten the defense
The Falcons finished sixth in the NFL against running last season, but faced the second lowest number of rushes by opponents. The teams were too successful in distributing the pass defense, which was the last in terms of footage allowed. Opponents were also making big comebacks late in the game; the Falcons lost 16, 17 and 20 points in 2020. No wonder the SN last simulation project in Atlanta select Michigan point guard Kwity Paye with the fourth pick in the first round.